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Category Archives: Transitions

Something is going to happen.

This is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel this year, and “coincidentally” also basically what I was meditating on in May when I was getting ready to go to the farm up in Burnsville with Joanna for the first time and when I was arriving there the voice was very strong.  Here it is:

Artemis sighed and walked out the door alone to go re-scout tent sites, and prayed that Rory would get there soon. She ended up taking a little hike down to the creek where she sat on a rock to think for the first time since her Greyhound bus ride three days before.

Something is going to happen, she felt the voice speak over her like the friendly hug of a warm blanket. Something is going to happen and you need to take this moment now to let go and let it happen.

You think you’ve been living in freedom these past three years just because you’ve broken out of your conservative Christian community and angsty home and been off in the world traveling. And in a way, you have come a really long way. But that wasn’t freedom; that was only the prelude to what is ahead.

In the travels you oftentimes thought that you were finding answers when really you were finding more bondage, just of a different sort. Again and again you’ve had to rethink so many of your conclusions about how the world works because you thought you had it right and it turns out you were wrong again.

The last time this happened, it humbled you beyond everything. You realize now you are not invincible or unbreakable in any regard. You realize now that you can’t just be hedonistic about your life, you need to live as if you will watch everybody you have ever loved die tomorrow and all you will be able to think about is that the last conversation you had with them you snubbed them and now they will never know how much you actually loved them because you never told them.

But now you’re here. And you’ve think you’ve learned all the lessons you needed to but you haven’t; you’re about to learn the biggest one of all; you’re about to break through to a whole new level. And even THEN you will think you are done but you won’t be.

“I’m going to be horribly confused for the rest of my life??” she asked.

You don’t have to think about it as horrible or really even confusing. But, in essence, yes. That’s why I need you to let go. Because you need to let things happen. Big things, in small things. And… you don’t need to know why, and it would be best not to pretend you know why, but you may do as you wish.

Artemis sat there in silence, staring unblinking at a neverending ripple in the current but seeing nothing, thinking nothing but “What about…?” but never getting past that part of the question. She knew it wasn’t time for what-abouts. It was time to get up, walk back up to the main part of the property, and let the next few weeks happen to her.

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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Faith, Fear, Transitions, Writing

 

THE Year

And I think to myself: this was supposed to be my big year!  The year I got off my butt and did all those Big Things, made plot points in my life, etc., etc…. and now I can’t because I have fallen completely on my butt and it will be a long while before I’m up again.  For a youngin like me, it seems like forever.  Now I can barely work to make enough money to go do those Big Things, and my computer is next to broken.
When I think these things, I get really antsy.  And then sad in another antsy sort of way.  I just want to run out the door and sieze the branches of the trees and send myself flying into the realm of success and dreams, but then I can’t – I’m stuck in bed or hobbling around for another long while until my leg gets strong enough again.  
Woe unto Jessica.  
Then I roll my eyes: I sure do get whiny about the stupidest little things.   
The truth is, every year has always been THE year.  Something, usually lots of things, always happen to me, and/or I go do things that change my life, whether I realize it right away or not.  If that wasn’t so I would still be teetering along in baby ballernia classes and spending my days gluing dried beans onto popsicle sticks for some reason (however, it’s entirely possible that my habits have simply evolved to take on the appearance of age-appropriate sophistication).  Every year things happen, and I grow and change and I become a lame beggar (who blogs) sitting on her (air mattress) bed in her (parent’s) house who starts to complain and then decides to marvel at how life and the world and God work instead.  Everything has always lead to something else, everything yucky is always working out for some other good – I’ve tracked these things, it’s crazy – and every time my life is about to reach a plateau, Tarzan swings in and crashes destructively through, throwing everything up in the air.   And by Tarzan, I mean the Fist of God or something.  Gentle, but really scary.
At the glorious mead-guzzling age of 21 I’m young and impatient – I wanted to go to work with wolves this year!  This was going to be my break, the thing I always wanted to do, the thing that is going to prove to the world that I can do what I bloody well want, and cry those tears of blood and sweat because I had finally, finally taken the rope of my future into my own hands, thrown the grappling hook perfectly, and dextrously hauled myself up to the tower of my dreams.
Instead, I tore up my knee last Thanksgiving and I’m left recovering from surgery for half the year, unable to work the way I had planned to so I could save the money I would need to pay for my room and board for the internship I’ve lusted after for five years now, always putting it off for a lovely “someday.”
I actually came up with a HUGE list of goals for 2012 – initially.  It’s depressing to look at it now.  (I’m depressing – oh, another Eeyore sort of day I guess.)  I attempted in the first week after surgery to work on everything all at once (that was possible to do while sitting down), justifying that I am ADHD and this must be the best way to work, ignoring all of the other times I (and my parents) have tried this in my life:  if there are a lot of things, but they are planned for specific days at specific times, IT STILL DOES NOT WORK. 
This helped me narrow things down; it was actually useful to try it all and then realize what I truly wanted to be doing most of the time and what I would rather do only occasionally.  This second week I’ve been employing the “do what you want when you want to” rule and it’s working out splendidly: I’ve narrowed all the everythings down to five goals (with their reasons, a la this blog post):
1.  Learn Spanish – for future travel in Spanish-speaking countries
2.  Learn Chemistry – for better understanding of ecology and DNA (I want to be learning Chemistry??  WOW, this is new) 
3.  Create College Rebelliona community with a wide range of resources based off of my Life Without College blog.  This dreadfully depends on this SOPA and PIPA thing, which I recommend you go call your senators about.  –  for the purpose of helping more people and perhaps making money as an online business someday
4.  Learn to Drawto illustrate my stories and for personal enjoyment and benefit
5.  Write new stories and edit the ones I’ve already written – for The People.  (i.e., I love telling stories and would love to share them worldwide someday, along with their corresponding illustrations once I can figure out shading!!  Bah humbug!)
And as this list came into fruition I realized: every day can be THE Day of My Life.  You fill life with a million little “aha” moments and you get art, wired substance reaching to a thousand hearts, almost suddenly, what-will-you-do-with-your-hands (I never know what to do) and there is your life, every second of it is that second, and there it happens…
What.  What can I do with this second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, in that order?  So what if I want to know everything?  All I have is the position of the sun or the moon in the sky and not a moment before or after.   
 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Life Pursuits, Transitions

 

It’s finally 2012?

So I begin this new year penniless and broken, but rich in sight and together in spirit. Every year I attempt to not be so sappy and sentimental about years and their endings and beginnings. But this year I’m just going to forget about that. If we have no reason to acknowledge endings and beginnings, then what are we?
Some may say it is better to fabricate your own, decide for yourself thine alpha and omega and that is fine and dandy – I often do that in life. But there is something about a universal mark of stopping and starting in the well-acknowledged continuum, something that gives you a sense of unity with others in the world because you know they are also stopping and starting with you. We are all wishing on the same star.
2012, sunshine morning woke me with high hopes painting over last year’s stale graffiti. Look, I am not going to be a pessimist about 2011; it was not a cursed year, and 2012 may not be any “better” – more than likely will be some form of “harder.”
But it doesn’t really matter what comes this year. I can’t hope for peace and tranquility, and that is okay. What matters is who I am in this coming year. How I face things that come. How I get up each morning. How I interact with people. How I push through walls or deign to take another route. How I think inside myself. How I maintain peace, faith, hope, and love in my heart.
This morning, shortly after waking up, I had a moment, a wave of relief, just for a second: it will never be 2011 again. And then I felt bad – that is not how I want to look at it at all. 2011 was a blessed year, a wild year, a year full of real tears and even more real smiles. It was the most significant year of my life thus far, as the most recent year always is.
And then I became instantly overwhelmed with the sheer excitement of what I can DO this year! I yanked the unabridged Les Miserables off the shelf: nearly 1,500 pages, a daunting first-of-the-year undertaking for this slow reader. It made me so very ecstatic; so far I am 17 pages in and loving it.
A moment later, mom came in to my room and delivered a book I had just received in the mail: “When They Were 22: 100 Famous People at the Turning Point in Their Lives.” I will be 22 this August and plan to read it then.
As I was flipping through the book, I remembered for the umpteenth time that this year is The Year – the one I plan to get an internship working with wolves in some capacity or another. The ideal time I have set aside for myself to do that is sometime between July and October, right around the “turning 22” part of my life. Nobody is saying a “turning point” of any gigantic significance will happen, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve been wanting to do this since I was 16, and anything that is “about time” in coming is a turning point in itself.
I also have many learning and miscellaneous goals for this year. Things like:
  • Learn the skills of an amateur naturalist, à la Rachel Carson or John Muir or the doctor in Master and Commander
  • Learn intermediate Spanish to the point where I would feel comfortable traveling to a Spanish-speaking country by myself
  • Have a college-level understanding of chemistry, especially in how it relates to ecology
  • Explore 4 American cities
  • Farm at least once in each season
  • Take at least 8 rock climbing lessons
Some priorities, though, come first. #1 is to heal my leg! (For those of you who don’t know, I tore a ligament in my knee in November playing Ultimate Frisbee and have to get it operated on in a couple of days). #2 is to create some income. My Life Without College blog is about to become an enterprise, folks. Imagine me sitting here with a broken leg, winding up a funky-looking toy that sings songs about looking for college alternatives. Let’s see what this baby can really do!
In closing, I have no closing. I am so very happy, always have been, always will be. At some points in 2011 I almost felt dead, but I am learning to not take myself seriously at those times anymore. Maybe life isn’t exactly a piece of cake, but the world is my perfect playground… and nobody is going to rain on my parade!
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Love,
~Jessica
Stay tuned for another post on books read in 2011 and what I thought of them, and a sampler of some pictures I took in the last week of the year.
 
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Posted by on January 2, 2012 in Life Pursuits, Transitions

 

The Air Conditioner Blues…

Yesterday I got rather in a dull mood and I can’t seem to really get out of it. “Dull” really is the best way to describe it, because I feel like a pencil lead that really needs to be sharpened.

Over the rest of my existence, particularly this summer, you are going to hear a lot of this “at the farm…” business. I apologize if this is annoying you, but I was there for a pretty long while and I fully intend to write about it as much as possible while the experience is fresh in my mind.

The thing about me is that I am solar powered. No sun? No Jessica. I mean, yes: there is a Jessica in this world and she is a fully functioning human being, and she didn’t die. Or anything. But her problem is that she seems to lose all amounts of energy that there ever could be on a cloudy day. And when that happens, she sort of starts to wonder if there is something wrong with her and whether she is broken.

Back to the first person.

It seems worse than it did, and I think that in the past ten seconds I figured out why: on the farm, I was out in the elements, whatever they were, for basically the entirety of my time there. The only time I wasn’t was when I would go to the bathroom in the house; otherwise, everywhere I was was either outside, or an indoor room with doors and windows open and no heating or air conditioner. I must be experiencing shock at going back to a more closed up, indoors-focused life, like when you put broccoli seedlings in the ground and they act like they are dying for a week or two.

So, that is it. I am dying.

Don’t act too alarmed, now.

Now more than ever I am seriously considering pitching a tent in the back yard… I am not sure I can survive like this. I feel so depressed.

I really do.

I just want to crawl into a little ball on my bed, and sleep forever, and not worry about anything, and definitely not breathe this stuffy “conditioned” air.

I need a tree to sit in.

There are no sufficiently sized sitting trees here in my yard.

I apologize for being extremely whiny and discontent-sounding right now. It’s quite unfair, I know, that I should come home to my parents and then be very upset with the living situation they are presently offering me. Well, it’s not like they can help that they live in a house. I mean, they could not, but my dad really likes to be a good dad who provides nice things like houses for his family. I could do without such luxuries, but I am sure the rest of my family appreciates it.

Now, the only question is: do I pitch my family’s five-person tent up in the attic, or do I go to Wal-Mart and get my own little yellow tent, the twin of my old tent back at the farm?

I would actually like to pitch our big tent, for the sake of having lots of free space, as well as the ventilation advantage that it will have in the summer when it gets really hot. But at the same time, I do know I will be getting my own little yellow tent for traveling purposes. I talked to this German couch surfer once and he got his for $20, and it was very compact and conducive to travel. He also bought a floatie raft as a mattress. He was a very awesome person.

Well, with that issue pinpointed and the solution resolved, I do feel a little better in my head.

The next issue is: movement. Work.

At the farm, I was working for eight to ten hours a day at least; often I was working twelve to fourteen hour days. Of course it was tiring, but this has happened before… I like working jobs where I’m moving all day, and when I come back home, I’m just not. I try to do my little workout in the morning, and maybe swim every once and a while, but most of the time I really don’t even see the point in doing these; they accomplish nothing but keeping my body in shape. I didn’t need to work out at the farm because I was simply moving all the time.

So, I clean my room, or I load the dishwasher, or I do laundry. But I miss the farming; I miss the work and I miss the schedule and working with people who didn’t mind work, and whom I could relate with on the level of not wanting an office job EVER.

If my job was sitting around on the computer all day (and a few times it has been… HELP), then I don’t know what I would do with myself. I just can’t stand it.

All in all, I just haven’t felt myself the past couple of days. Of course I am completely overreacting to this; just because I feel in the doldrums doesn’t mean that I have become a stranger. But I need to get out and doing something, preferably outside, or I shall go nuts. Absolute nuts.

I need a place where I can sing, a place where I can walk around a feel free. I need a place where I can say what I need to, or just not say anything at all. I need the solace of forest acres and the lull of wind rushing through the leaves so I can sleep. I know that Raleigh isn’t really a city at all, but I feel like a fish out of water here regardless.

It’s sad. I want to enjoy my time here… and I know I will. I’m spending time with family and some of the best friends in the world, and I am making money. But this just isn’t where I am meant to be forever. Nature beckons.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Happiness, Transitions

 

In which Jessica keeps waking up in her own bed

It was a strange sort of normal seeming transition for me to go from sleeping in a tent every night for four months to go back to sleeping in a bed. The first night it was okay; I slept like a little rock and woke up on my back, and surprisingly every inch of the aforementioned posterior was touching a section of bed. But after that, the wonderfulness of the bed wore off and I started to sleep horribly. The bed was too squishy. I could feel all the squishy parts of it all over me all night.

It didn’t help that there was a cat walking all over me…

Wait a second.

There were cats at the farm, too.

The thing was, I was at a farm. Now, when you think “farm”, you probably don’t think “living in a tent.” And if you do, then you’re really awesome. If you don’t, that does not make you not awesome, it just makes you a normal person who goes about life assuming that the other parts of the world that you do not see are a certain way, which is NOT TRUE GUYS. But since you assume that anyway, you probably think that “farm” means “cows and roosters.” Which, incidentally, were also a part of my stay. I don’t know if you would assume I would be sleeping in a house. I mean, there was a house there, but it was not for me to sleep in.

I slept in the house once, because I was sick and the family who owned the house and the farm and whatnot decided that I should sleep inside in a real bed so I could get a better night’s sleep and heal faster. It worked. I was in Louisiana, but even Louisiana has cold winters, especially when your only source of heat is yourself and hopefully your blankets are insulated enough to help you keep your own heat to yourself.

This is actually another cat from the farm, Cheddar Blossom

Even though the night was supposed to be comfy, and it was, there was a cat. The farm owned four cats, along with some strays that still ate the food, and one of them was in the house all of that night. She came into the room and happy pawed my face and then slept on my head. I don’t know why she couldn’t have just slept beside me or on another part of my body, but she was this particularly strange calico named Two-face who was kind of whiny and had lots of fleas and gained weight around her stomach only, so we kept wondering if she was pregnant, but then she wasn’t, because her stomach size fluctuated by the week and she never… well, anyway, that is pretty irrelevant.

In the really early days they put me up in the bunkhouse over the colonial-style kitchen. That was cold, too, but the cats would usually sleep with me, so I wasn’t too bad. Everyone was jealous that the cats seemed to like me best. They said it was because I have a calm nature. I didn’t know I had a calm nature; I feel pretty… I don’t know, over-active in my head, and I very often have trouble sitting still. But, I guess, I do not really get strung out or stressed… definitely not as much as some people. So I suppose that is what they meant. How nice of them.

After three weeks, I determined to move out to a tent.

Actually, I determined after the first week, but it took me two more weeks to actually get around to it.

I waited till this girl named Marlee left. I then took her tent and the book she was reading and her muck boots. She was aware that this was my plan, so I exaggerated it to say I was taking her identity and soul too, so she would know that I really wasn’t eagerly counting the days till she left. Fortunately, she wasn’t one of those serious, sensitive girls who can’t take a joke; Marlee was a really cool girl. Her hair was a little longer than mine and nearly as curly, so I kept observing her hairstyles so I could follow suit once my hair grew to that length.


Marlee walked with quite the swagger, and for about a week of wearing her boots, I felt compelled to walk the same way. But then I got my own swagger when I started having this Christmas song in my head that I can’t remember the name of which compelled me to do a kick-march sort of dance through the rows of kale and feel like I should apologize for singing Christmas songs. I did for a bit, but then I decided that this was a favor that nobody in the world deserved, especially if they thought they did. I have a right to sing any song I want to at any time, right? Right.

Marlee’s tent actually belonged to the farm. It was a happy yellow Junior Scout tent that I had to sleep diagonally in. The first night I slept in it, it was a low of 20 degrees, and I think I woke up every time the temperature dropped, feeling my bones shrink and maybe crack a little. It didn’t help that the evening prior, I had drank a beer and eaten some beans that had not been soaked long enough, so I was extremely gassy. Imagine how it feels to have gas freezing inside of you.

My last night in my tent, I discovered that a sleeping bag is much more warm and insulating than three blankets, and I wanted to hit myself over the head for waiting four months to realize that.

I felt so accomplished after my extremely cold night in my tent. I could do ANYTHING. And I still can, but at that point, I really could.

Upon my return home, I kept waking up thinking that I must be at the farm, and finding – lo and behold! – I am not.

And, most of all, I kind of want to go back to sleeping on the floor, or pitch a tent in the back yard. Apparently my mom is all for the latter.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Farms and Farming, Memory, Transitions

 

Dramamine is my Drug of Choice

I love to write, you see.  I love to write about everything.  I write a lot.  This blog often consists of me writing a lot, about whatever comes to mind.  I may write about cell phones, or when the ice cream truck came when I was three, or spend a great deal of time musing why I suddenly decided to boycott purple when I was 14 and only just remembered that I actually love the color.

Or I might post about my adventures in cookie baking, or how I handle long distance relationships with towns on the other side of the USA.

It is up to me.

Or you!  You can ask me to write about something as well, and I shall do my best to comply.

I also may showcase some artwork (or illustrate my writing) from time to time, as I am attempting to become an artistic person.

Today I flew back from Las Vegas, NV, and I am sitting here in Fuquay-Varina, NC, thinking about how I need chap stick and healthy things like sleep.  BUT I could be feeling much, much worse.  You see, ever since I turned 20 my body declared that it would NOT be functioning as a happy-go-lucky individual anymore, and I would have to learn to deal with my problems.  One of these problems (for there are many) is extreme motion sickness.  I used to be able to read in the car, in a plane, ANYWHERE.  Now I can’t even ride in the car without getting sick.  Plane rides are gross.  Helicopters are unbearable.

Until my father suggested Dramamine.

Problem solved.

It’s that simple!  I take half the recommended dosage and I feel nothing except happiness that I am enjoying eating my 27 snacks on this lovely bumpy cross-country airplane ride while reading a great book about genetic imprinting!

~Jessica

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Transitions

 

CPR, marketing endeavors, and playing with snakes

Hi, welcome to my new blog. I will say nothing sentimental nor anything eloquent about “this is a blog about blah blah blah me me me blah blah blah journey of life.” I’m just going to jump into things, feel free to follow along the best that you can. 🙂
Recently I became the marketing intern for a new company called Homeschool Leadership Retreats. The name is pretty self-explanatory: they design leadership retreats for homeschoolers and unschoolers ages 13-19 with a variety of different focuses, fostering independence and showing teens and young adults how to get out in their community and start building their futures and accomplishing their dreams. This, of course, fits in very well with my passion for autodidacticism and “Life Without College,” and I find the challenge of marketing exhilarating.
Also recently I took a certification course for First Aid and CPR through the Red Cross, and that was very interesting. Though at this time I am choosing not to pursue their related fields professionally, health, emergency medical procedures, and the human body fascinate me nonetheless. I enjoy every opportunity in which I am able to learn more about these things. In the future I am interested in pursuing it further and getting my Wilderness First Responder certification.
Probably the most rewarding thing I am doing right now is volunteering with Piedmont Wildlife Center. I do a variety of things – basically, I am their slave. But surely they’ve never had such a willing one! Among other things, I feed the animals, clean cages, make signs, move things around, conduct research, make contact lists, alphabetize things, help with camps, and go to events with the program animals to promote the center and educate the public on our wildlife. In my spare time I cuddle with the snakes. I am having the time of my life.
But you may be wondering: what is all this for? Do I have a point? Am I trying to accomplish something? Don’t I need a career eventually? Is this all I am doing?
My “dream” consists of three main desires: to be in some way, shape, or form, an animal behaviorist, a naturalist, and/or an ethologist. My only preference is that I actually get paid to do these things; and I am determined to get the experience necessary for these types of jobs in other places besides just a classroom. I am taking my first steps now, and have many more steps planned in the near future. A bonus is that, all the while, I am enjoying myself right where I am. And, subsequently, right where I am is only affirming where I want to go in the future, which is a reward in and of itself.
 
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Posted by on April 24, 2010 in Animals, Life Pursuits, Transitions

 
 
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